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Leseprobe

Realism and Romanticism


in German Literature
Realismus und Romantik
in der deutschsprachigen Literatur
Edited by
Dirk Göttsche and Nicholas Saul

AISTHESIS VERLAG
Bielefeld 2013
Cover image:
Wilhelm Raabe: Steilküste (Aquarell), Stadtarchiv Braunschweig,
Depositum des Städtischen Museums, H III 10 AKZ 2008/074:10.

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Contents

Introduction ..................................................................................................... 9

1. From Romanticism to Realism:


Negations, Transitions, Transformations

Rainer Hillenbrand
Realistische Romantik in Tiecks letzter Novelle Waldeinsamkeit .... 33

Jesko Reiling
Die „poetischeren Momente der Erscheinungswelt“.
Berhold Auerbachs Romantikrezeption ................................................ 75

Gert Vonhoff
Romantisches und der Prototyp des realistischen Erzählens.
Gedanken zur Evolution der ‚Dorfgeschichte‘ ..................................... 95

Benedict Schofield
“Die Willkür der alten Romantik”. The Romantic Legacy
in Gustav Freytag’s Literary Works and Theory ................................... 125

Magdolna Orosz
Verabschiedung und Fortsetzung der Romantik im Frühwerk von
Theodor Storm. Eine intertextuelle Analyse der Novelle Immensee 149

2. Realism and Romanticism and the Two Cultures:


Science, Literature and Modernity

Martina King
Der romantische Arzt als Erzähler. Medizinisches Wissen
in Stifters Die Mappe meines Urgroßvaters (1868) ............................... 171
Christiane Arndt
Fieberkrank – Realistisches Erzählen als romantische Ansteckung
bei Raabe und Storm ................................................................................. 203

3. Romanticism in Realism I: Uncanny Returns

Christian Begemann
Gespenster des Realismus. Poetologie – Epistemologie – Psychologie
in Fontanes Unterm Birnbaum ................................................................ 229

Philip Ajouri
Vom unerklärbaren Übernatürlichen zur unerklärten Natur.
Gottfried Kellers Die Geisterseher und sein romantischer Prätext,
E.T.A. Hoffmanns Ein Fragment aus dem Leben dreier Freunde ...... 261

Nicholas Saul
“Unsere tägliche Selbsttäuschung gib uns heute!”
Spiritualism and the Presence of Romantic Poetics
in Raabe’s Vom alten Proteus (1875) ....................................................... 297

Martina Süess
„Solange der Götze gilt“. Romantische Reminiszenzen
in Fontanes Effi Briest ................................................................................. 315

4. Romanticism in Realism II: Memory, Art, History

Dirk Göttsche
The Place of Romanticism in the Literary Memory
of the Anti-Napoleonic Wars (1848-1914).
Roquette, Raabe and Jensen ..................................................................... 341

Martin Swales
The Need to Believe and the Impossibility of Belief.
Romantic and Realistic Strategies in Gottfried Keller’s
Der grüne Heinrich ..................................................................................... 385
Ralf Simon
Geschichtsverlauf und Subjektgenese. Zu einem Deutungsmuster
romantischer Geschichtsphilosophie und der realistischen
Korrektur bei Raabe (Im Siegeskranze, Horacker) ................................ 395

5. Romanticism, Realism, and Beyond

Russell A. Berman
The Integrity of Fiction in the Age of Realism: Theodor Storm ...... 429

Notes on the Contributors ............................................................................ 449

Index ................................................................................................................... 455


Introduction

When writers and critics such as Gustav Freytag, Julian Schmidt, Berthold
Auerbach and Friedrich Theodor Vischer established a new literary move-
ment under the name of ‘Realism’ in response to the 1848 revolution and
its defeat, the term ‘Romanticism’, including the perceived ‘Romanticism’
of Vormärz aesthetics, acted as a critical foil for the new departure. Thus
for example when Hermann Hettner, under whose aegis no less a figure
than Gottfried Keller studied, attempted to outline the future of German
literature in 1850, a key part of his aesthetico-political strategy involved
the polemical denunciation of German Romanticism’s perceived idealist
escapism. It was all “elfenduftige Mährchendichtung” and “schwächlich
verschwimmende Innerlichkeit”.1 To an extent Goethe and Schiller were
excepted from this critique. Yes, they were idealists. But they at least opposed
“romantische Phantastik”2 and appealed to the unchallengeable authority of
classical antiquity. This, however, was a mere transient concession. For the
new “realistische Kunst”3 opposes even the classical duo. Their admirable, yet
superannuated achievement will be eclipsed by the new literature’s striving
for “innere Wahrheit”4, rooted as it is in something there has never been: the
imminent emergence of a new, free nation and literature’s concomitant, judi-
ciously idealised rendering of its vital reality of action and work. In the same
year, in pursuit of a variant of this same goal – Volksthümlichkeit – Julian
Schmidt for his part dismissed the entire preceding epoch of Romanticism in
cunningly Hegelian terms as “das Zeitalter des subjectiven Idealismus”.5 That
entire literature was artificial and elitist. Capricious writers struck the pose
1 See Hermann Hettner. Die romantische Schule in ihrem inneren Zusammen-
hange mit Göthe und Schiller. Braunschweig 1850, cited in Realismus und
Gründerzeit. Manifeste und Dokumente zur deutschen Literatur 1848-1880.
Mit einer Einführung in den Problemkreis und einer Quellenbibliographie.
Eds. Max Bucher, Werner Hahl, Georg Jäger and Reinhard Wittmann. 2 vols.
Stuttgart: Metzler, 1981, vol. 2: Manifeste und Dokumente, pp. 63-66 (p. 65).
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 See Julian Schmidt. “Die Reaction in der deutschen Poesie”. Die Grenzboten
10/1 (1851), pp. 17-25, cited in Realismus und Gründerzeit (note 1), pp. 83-87
(p. 83).
10 Dirk Göttsche and Nicholas Saul

of sovereign irony, mocked the natural and authentic for the jaded palates of
their select readership, haunted houses like sentimental vampires in search of
ever more exquisitely refined emotions, and, when in search of simple devo-
tional awe either wallowed “in der trüben Mystik verworrener Bilder” and
“Sehnsucht” or dissolved earthly reality into the “falsche Unendlichkeit” of
some abstract future paradise.6
In 1850s and 1860s criticism this antithetical conception of ‘Realism’ and
‘Romanticism’ was part of a politics of literature that, despite its often anti-
idealist rhetoric, combined an idealist conception of literary realism with
political liberalism and bourgeois self-assertion in the face of the combined
threats of reactionary politics, mass culture and the socio-cultural upheaval
of accelerating modernisation and industrialisation. This historical origin of
received literary terminology has survived in the orthodox notion that Realism
and Romanticism mark not just two distinct periods in literary history, but are
also radically opposed in their understanding of literature and in their literary
practice. While there are good reasons for such mapping of nineteenth-cen-
tury German literature, there are today also significant complications which
encourage caution against easy oppositions of Realism and Romanticism.
There is, for example, from the perspective of ‘Romanticism’ itself the
begged question of the movement’s own epochal identity. Well-founded
revisionist scholarship established long since on foot of a dialectical concept
of cultural evolution an inner identity of Enlightenment and Early Roman-
ticism. This is legible in significant traces of the Enlightenment project in
Early Romantic thought, and that common foundation (subjectivity, auton-
omy, intellectualism, religious secularisation, utopianism, constructivism)
has since been extended to comprehend both the Enlightenment project of
Adorno and Habermas and the notion of Romanticism as belonging to a
macro-epoch of modernity – including Realism – extending from 1750 to
the 1950s.7 This trend has been reflected at the other margin of the Kunst-
6 Ibid., pp. 84-85.
7 See Helmut Schanze. Romantik und Aufklärung. Untersuchungen zu Friedrich
Schlegel und Novalis. Nuremberg: Carl, 1976 (1st ed. 1966); Andrew Bowie.
From Romanticism to Critical Theory. The Philosophy of German Literary Theory.
London, New York: Routledge, 1997; Silvio Vietta. Die literarische Moderne.
Eine problemgeschichtliche Darstellung der deutschsprachigen Literatur von Höl-
derlin bis Thomas Bernhard. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1992. See as case study on this
Nicholas Saul. “Experimentelle Selbsterfahrung und Selbstdestruktion. Ana-
tomie des Ichs in der literarischen Moderne”. Ästhetische Moderne in Europa.
Introduction 11

periode, where scholarship has established a further blurring of borders, the


inner continuity of late-Romantic theory and practice with the incipient sci-
entism, populism and Volksthümlichkeit of Biedermeier and Vormärz litera-
ture.8 Recent recognition of internal tensions within the ‘Romantic School’,
such as Arnim’s and Brentano’s horror of Novalis’s encyclopaedic intellec-
tualism, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s withering literary deconstructions of Novalis’s
central myths, or Heine’s savage polemic against the Schlegels, echoes and
confirms these widely-focused discussions, and suggests from today’s stand-
point that the talk of ‘Romanticism’ as a self-contained epoch defined by an
internally consistent singular body of thought and cultural strategy is itself
strategically constructed and at least questionable. This is surely supported
by a more discerning gaze at Realist theory and practice itself. There, for
example, is the continued fascination of Realist writers like Stifter, Storm
and Fontane by the uncanny and the supernatural, and the legacy of Roman-
tic motifs, characters, themes, narrative devices – and even arguments – in
Realist narrative. There are furthermore the legacies of idealist aesthetics in
theories of the ‘bürgerlich’ (or programmatic) and ‘poetic’ strands of Ger-
man Realism during the mid-nineteenth century. There are intertextual
references and continuities in genre histories, and post-Romantic counter-
strands even after the Realist agenda became fully established by the 1860s
– to name but a few of the challenges to the traditional understanding. Thus
the mediation of ‘Romanticism’ with Realism needs to be reassessed, both in
received epochal terms and in terms of the larger narrative and genealogies
of historical scholarship.
This volume aims on that account to reassess German Realism’s relation-
ship with Romanticism and to explore the multiple ways in which writers
from Stifter and Keller to Raabe and Fontane engage with literary and cul-
tural aspects of German Romanticism, with Romantic theory and philoso-
phy, and with individual Romantic authors and critics. Considering Realist

Grundzüge und Problemzusammenhänge seit der Romantik. Eds. Silvio Vietta


and Dirk Kemper. Munich: Fink 1998, pp. 321-342.
8 See for example Wolfgang Frühwald. Das Spätwerk Clemens Brentanos (1815-
1842). Romantik im Zeitalter der Metternich’schen Restauration. Tübingen:
Niemeyer, 1977. Frühwald of course builds on Sengle (see note 10); Wolfgang
Bunzel, Peter Stein, Florian Vaßen (eds.). Romantik und Vormärz. Zur Archäo-
logie literarischer Kommunikation in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts.
Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2003 (= Forum Vormärz Foschung, Vormärz-Studien, X).
12 Dirk Göttsche and Nicholas Saul

writing from the 1840s to around 1900, it combines theoretical approaches


to rethinking the relationship between Realism and Romanticism with a
range of case studies and comparative investigations. Building on the new
phase of research into German Realism which scholars such as Marianne
Wünsch, Claus-Michael Ort, Hugo Aust, Michael Titzmann and Gerhard
Plumpe initiated during the 1990s9, the volume aims to promote a further
remapping of German Realism in its broader context and beyond the reduc-
tive patterns of orthodox literary historiography, which are still rooted in
the literary politics of the period. While considering a range of literary and
non-literary sources, discourses and perspectives, the chapters of this volume
interlink in multiple ways and they all address a number of fundamental
questions which complicate or undercut the received antithesis between
Romanticism and Realism, re-evaluating their relationship in broader nine-
teenth-century literary and cultural history.
A first approach to remapping the relationship between Realism and
Romanticism in nineteenth-century German literature, as reflected in the
chapters of this volume, is historical differentiation, including closer analysis
of transitions and overlaps between both periods and a new appreciation of
the multiple interaction between writing perceived as Realist and Roman-
tic. The rise of programmatic Realism during the 1850s arguably builds
on more than three decades of what Friedrich Sengle called “biedermeier-
liche[r] Detailrealismus” and (with reference to Charles Sealsfield) “Früh­
realismus”10: the development of realist techniques of writing and a poetics of

9 See Marianne Wünsch. Realismus (1850-1890). Zugänge zu einer literari-


schen Epoche. Mit Beiträgen von Jan-Oliver Decker, Peter Klimczak, Hans
Krah und Martin Nies. Kiel: Ludwig, 2007; Claus-Michael Ort. Zeichen und
Zeit. Probleme des literarischen Realismus. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1998; Hugo
Aust. Literatur des Realismus. 3rd ed. Weimar: Stuttgart, 2000; Michael Titz-
mann. “‘Grenzziehung’ vs. ‘Grenztilgung’. Zu einer fundamentalen Differenz
der Literatursysteme ‘Realismus’ und ‘Frühe Moderne’”. Titzmann. Realismus
und frühe Moderne. Beispielinterpretationen und Systematisierungsversuche.
Munich: Belleville, 2009, pp. 275-307; Bürgerlicher Realismus und Gründerzeit
1848-1890. Eds. Edward McInnes and Gerhard Plumpe. Munich: dtv, 1996
(=  Hanser Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur vom 16. Jahrhundert bis
zur Gegenwart, 6).
10 Friedrich Sengle. Biedermeierzeit. Deutsche Literatur im Spannungsfeld zwischen
Restauration und Revolution 1815-1848. 3 vols. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1971-1980,
vol. 1, p. 287 and passim; vol. 3, p. 809.
Introduction 13

critical engagement with emerging modernity, which has its origins in the
transition from the Late Enlightenment around 1800 to the Biedermeier
style of the early Restoration period (see for example the late works of The­
rese Huber, the Swiss writers Ulrich Hegner and Heinrich Zschokke, the
Zeitromane of the anti-Napoleonic ‘Liberation Wars’, and popular fiction
of the 1820s)11 and which later helps to prepare the ground for post-1848
Realism in the socio-politically engaged Vormärz poetics of the 1830s and
1840s. Despite the persistence of Romantic tropes, the social novel of the
1840s, for example, is arguably more ‘realistic’ than the poetic Realism of the
Nachmärz period with its turn against such perceived ‘naturalism’ and its
revalidation and bourgeois adaptation of idealist aesthetics. While the early
Realism of the Restoration period largely develops alongside and in oppo-
sition to Romanticism, there is ample evidence of interaction and border
crossing, as exemplified by the novellas of the late Tieck, Wilhelm Hauff or
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, by Willibald Alexis’s novels or indeed Ernst
Willkomm and post-1838 Heinrich Laube12, to name but a few, all of whose
works illustrate the role of Romantic motifs and techniques in the emergence
of Realist modes of writing. The violent rejection of Vormärz ‘Romanticism’
by the proponents of Nachmärz Realism epitomizes a very typically modern
politics of theory which claims innovation by quite deliberately exorcising
and ‘forgetting’ the ghosts of the new movement’s history. Such exclusion
inevitable sets the scene for uncanny returns that, over time, undermine and
transform the new paradigm itself.
The politicised use of the term ‘Romanticism’ in the theory and criticism
of Realism from the 1850s and 1860s also highlights the need to indicate
very clearly what is being referred to when terms such as ‘Romanticism’ and

11 See Dirk Göttsche. Zeit im Roman. Literarische Zeitreflexion und die Geschichte
des Zeitromans im späten 18. und im 19. Jahrhundert. Munich: Fink, 2001,
pp. 433-494; “Der Zeitroman zwischen 1815 und 1830. Ein vergessenes Kapi-
tel aus der Geschichte des deutschen Romans”. Immermann-Jahrbuch 2 (2001),
pp. 99-135.
12 See Dirk Göttsche. “Gutzkow und Laube. Poetologische Aspekte einer Zeit-
genossenschaft zwischen Vormärz und Realismus”. Karl Gutzkow and His Con-
temporaries / Karl Gutzkow und seine Zeitgenossen. Beiträge zur Internationalen
Konferenz des Editionsprojektes Karl Gutzkow vom 7. bis 9. September 2010 in
Exeter. Ed. Gert Vonhoff in collaboration with Beke Sinjen and Sabrina Stolfa.
Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2011 (= Forum Vormärz Forschung, Vormärz-Studien,
XXI), pp. 79-106.
14 Dirk Göttsche and Nicholas Saul

‘Realism’ are being used. Historical usage from the Nachmärz period, which
established the orthodox dichotomy between both, is surely not identical
with today’s terminology in literary history in all respects. At the same time,
established terminology for German literary history distinguishes quite
happ­ily and usefully between the Early Romanticism around 1800 and
post-Napoleonic Late Romanticism, potentially even considering the need
for an intermediate phase of Hochromantik 13, while the period of Realism
is largely conceived as a singular. This view of Realism has recently been
enhanced by approaches drawing on Michel Foucault’s discourse theory and
Niklas Luhmann’s Systemtheorie to define the “Literatursystem des Realis-
mus” (in the singular)14 and its unique “poetologische Koordinatensystem”.15
The persistence and consistency of the Realist paradigm throughout the sec-
ond half of the nineteenth century is indeed striking and recent research
since the 1990s has done much to enrich our understanding of what defines
Realist poetics. That said – to argue for a moment against the grain –, the
lack of such a “Koordinatensystem” for the description of the constitution
of the ‘Romantic’ epoch can also be regarded differently: as both the symp-
tom of the difficulties of classifying Romanticism and as a desideratum in
scholarship of Romanticism. Taking Wünsch’s model of how Early Modern-
ism emerges from the system of Realism, it would, for example, be useful to
attempt to establish such a model in order to describe – even heuristically –
the relation of Romanticism and Realism in systems theory terms.
Concretely, Wünsch speculatively describes Realism as a system defined
by three main co-ordinates, all semantically orientated around closure and
limit: the self-consciousness of the stable subject, which precludes the seri-
ous treatment of unconscious energies and fluidities; the dominance of tra-
ditional social-ethical norms, which preclude the sympathetic treatment of
deviance therefrom; and the unproblematised treatment of death as cognitive
13 See for example Harro Segeberg. “Phasen der Romantik”. Romantik-Handbuch.
Ed. Helmut Schanze. Tübingen: Kröner, 1994, pp.  31-78; Wolfgang Bunzel
(ed.). Romantik. Epoche – Autoren – Werke. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche
Buchgesellschaft, 2010.
14 Wünsch. Realismus (note 9), p.  91 (heading) and chapter XII: “Vom späten
‘Realismus’ zur ‘Frühen Moderne’. Modell eines literarischen Strukturwandels”
(pp. 337-359).
15 Claus-Michael Ort. “Was ist Realismus?” Realismus. Epoche – Autoren – Werke.
Ed. Christian Begemann. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft,
2007, pp. 11-26 (p. 20).
Introduction 15

vanishing point. All these co-ordinates establish the closed character of


a stable system which defines itself in Luhmannian terms against its envi-
ronmental Other by this typical reduction of complexity. Yet these co-or-
dinates become destabilised in the historical contact zone between Realism
and Early Modernism, that is, when Cartesian autonomy is breached by new
theories of the self, when received ethical norms are questioned, and when
death becomes an epistemologically uncontrolled motor of narrative explo-
ration. Thus a tipping-point of systematic instability is reached. The system
based on closure cannot reproduce itself and a new evolution of the system
is stabilised, which is orientated precisely around the openness of the subject
characteristic of modernism. Now one could speculate that the semantic sys-
tems co-ordinates of German Romanticism might also – inter alia – be taken
to include the fluidification of the rigid in general, and in particular the pro-
gressive opening of the subject to otherness, the overcoming of social-ethical
norms, and the epistemological encounter with death, so that the recourse to
Romanticism in the emergence of Early Modernism can be explained as cata-
lysed by precisely a memory of the tendencies which Wünsch describes from
an earlier epoch, and the emergence of neo-Romanticism in Early Modern-
ism becomes comprehensible. But how, now thinking from the other end of
the epoch, does the putative system of Romantic literature tip into Realism?
Work heuristically to establish such a ‘system’ of Romanticism, which (as is
well-known) defined itself over and above what has just been said as both
system and non-system16, remains still to be done.
Moving beyond systems theory, there is nevertheless the further point
that the abstractions of such high-level theoretical generalisation call in and
of themselves for a move in the opposite direction: the need to describe his-
torical differentiation in the light of the equally striking differences between
the many authors labelled as Realists, and the powerful shifts, even within
their own œuvres, from the 1850s to the 1890s and beyond. Analysing
Realism’s engagement with Romanticism can thus act as a catalyst for the
kind of micro-stranding and micro-periodisation that need to complement
new insight into the “system of Realism” in order to do justice to the rich-
ness of the literature archived under that label and the dynamic of cultural

16 See Novalis. Schriften. Die Werke Friedrich von Hardenbergs. Eds. Paul Kluck-
hohn, Richard Samuel, Heinz Ritter, Hans-Joachim Mähl, Gerhard Schulz.
6 vols. Stuttgart, Berlin, Cologne, Mainz: Kohlhammer, 1960ff., vol. 2, pp. 288-
289 (Nr. 648).
16 Dirk Göttsche and Nicholas Saul

developments reflected in Realist writing. Pursuing a range of motifs, dis-


courses and techniques from the 1840s through the pioneering phase of pro-
grammatic Realism to Late Realism and the often neglected post-1890s late
Wilhelmine Realism, the chapters of this volume also work towards such
historical differentiation. They draw attention to subtle shifts in the shape
and function of references to Romanticism in Realist writing that has moved
beyond the literary politics of the Nachmärz period, operating in a cultural
context in which Romanticism, perceived as truly historical by the end of the
1870s, offers new opportunities rather than posing a threat.
Redressing the balance between reconstructing the poetological system
of Realism and historical differentiation, however, also leads to a second and
potentially more revolutionary approach to remapping the relationship of
Realism with Romanticism: reassessing and indeed acknowledging the sys-
tematic place of (references to and engagement with) Romanticism in Real-
ist poetics and Realist writing. As Christian Begemann, in particular, points
out in his chapter (see below), the idealist legacy in the theory and practice of
German Realism, i.e. the insistence that the realism envisaged should portray
the ‘true reality’ of the bourgeois world and of human reality more broadly,
rather than offering a merely ‘naturalist’ depiction, opens the back door to
what the combined politics of bourgeois liberalism and programmatic Real-
ism sought to exclude: the Romantic legacy in philosophy and literature,
representing the very idealism that poetic Realism relies on to counteract the
“zur Prosa geordnete Wirklichkeit” (Hegel) of modernity with literature’s
“grüne Stellen” (Vischer) and to produce the ‘erhöhte Kunstwelt’ (Lud-
wig) of aesthetically induced order in the representation of the real world.17
The internal contradictions of Realist theory effectively place (references
to) Romanticism at the very heart of Realist poetics, and this paradoxical
poetological framework is reflected in the return of Romantic themes and
motifs, as well as more ambitious engagement with Romantic epistemology
and poetics, in the literary practice of both major and minor authors of Real-
ism throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. The references to

17 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Werke, vol. 15: Vorlesungen über die Ästhe-
tik III. Eds. Eva Moldenhauer and Karl Markus Michel. Frankfurt/Main:
Suhrkamp, 1986, p. 392; Friedrich Theodor Vischer. Aesthetik oder Wissenschaf-
ten vom Schönen (1857), cited in Realismus und Gründerzeit (note 1), vol. 2,
pp.  216-222 (p.  216); Otto Ludwig. Shakespeare-Studien (1874), cited ibid.,
pp. 101-104 (p. 103).
Introduction 17

Romanticism thus play a key role in the defining self-reflexivity of Realist


narrative from Stifter and Keller to Raabe, Storm and Fontane; they are a cat-
alyst of the often misunderstood modernism of Realist writing, whose epis-
temology and literary refinement extend well beyond the often rather crude
politics of Realist theory. It is a well-known fact that Realist theory and the
practice of Realist writing are two rather separate discourses and that novel-
ists of Realism, such as Keller, Storm and Raabe, deliberately resisted theoriz-
ing their work18; Friedrich Spielhagen is perhaps the most obvious example
of a writer who disregarded his theory of objectivist representation in his
own novel-writing19, and the implicit poetics of Keller’s, Storm’s, Raabe’s and
Fontane’s narratives, as demonstrated in the chapters of this volume, are far
more advanced than the theoretical discourse produced at the time of their
early works. If “das imaginative Durchspielen und Variieren von Wirklich-
keitskonstruktionen, die die Gesellschaft ernsthaft beschäftigen, d.h. die
Simulation von Alternativen gerade da, wo üblicherweise Unausweichlich-
keit vermutet wird”20, is a defining feature of the writing of German Realism,
then its references to Romanticism play a crucial role in this achievement.
Moving beyond literary historical periodisation, such analysis of the sys-
tematic place of Romanticism in Realism leads to a more general reconsid-
eration of the relationship between both periods. To begin with, Romanti-
cism and Realism are both embedded in longer-term cultural developments
in the process of modernity and modernisation which transcend literary
periodisation, while writers and critics from both periods respond to and
engage with them. The example considered in this volume is the history of
medical knowledge and its link to Romantic anthropology, to the Romantic
philosophy of nature, and the rise of the modern sciences during the nine-
teenth century. References to Romantic anthropology play a crucial role in
Realist writers’ response to the rise of modern scientific knowledge, and the
response may well be a contrapuntal revalidation of Romantic epistemology,
just as German Realist literature’s response to other aspects of the radical

18 See Gerhard Plumpe. “Einleitung”. Bürgerlicher Realismus und Gründerzeit


(note 9), pp. 17-83 (p. 42).
19 See Jeffrey L. Sammons. Friedrich Spielhagen. Novelist of Germany’s False Dawn.
Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2004, pp. 52-69.
20 Edward McInnes and Gerhard Plumpe. “Vorbemerkung”. Bürgerlicher Realis-
mus und Gründerzeit (note 9), pp. 7-15 (p. 7).
18 Dirk Göttsche and Nicholas Saul

“Verwandlung der Welt” (Osterhammel)21 in the process of nineteenth-cen-


tury modernisation and globalisation is sometimes contrapuntal.22 In retro-
spect, and considering the reception history of Realism during the twentieth
century, ‘Romanticism’ and ‘Realism’ also act as ciphers for different literary
styles as well as different epistemologies that have since acted as points of
reference for literary developments as well as debate in critical theory and
aesthetics. Here too a bewildering counterpoint is in evidence. The vast
majority of novels published in Germany (and elsewhere) today are ‘realist’
novels implicitly appealing to nineteenth-century aesthetic and ethical val-
ues, so that ‘difficult’ works which transcend that framework to address the
modern condition in innovative ways – such as Botho Strauß’s Der junge
Mann (1984) – often contain internal self-legitimations directed at their
modern readers in the shape of self-consciously foregrounded appeals to
the ‘Romantic’ tradition. Conversely, as Russell Berman’s essay suggests, aes-
thetic Realism such as that of Theodor Storm may also embody a transhistor-
ical ethic which offers solutions to the modern condition precisely through
its anti-modernism.

Realism and Romanticism in German Literature begins with the first


approach to remapping Realism, the reassessment of the fuzzy historical rela-
tionship between Romanticism and Realism, of transitions between the two
periods, of critical and literary responses to Romanticism in the emergence
of programmatic Realism, and of the transformation of elements of Roman-
tic discourse and style in Realist writing (“From Romanticism to Realism:
Negations, Transitions, Transformations”). The rise of bourgeois and poetic
Realism since the 1840s arguably builds on the development of realist modes
of representation, in particular in narrative, which emerged in the transition
from Late Enlightenment to Biedermeier style in novels and novellas written
after the end of the Napoleonic period, alongside Germany’s Late Romanti-
cism, in the context of “biedermeierlicher Detailrealismus” (Sengle). Lud-
wig Tieck’s influential “Dialognovellen”, Caroline de la Motte Fouqué’s
later novels, some of Wilhelm Hauff ’s novellas, Willibald Alexis’s work, and

21 Jürgen Osterhammel. Die Verwandlung der Welt. Eine Geschichte des 19. Jahr-
hunderts. Munich: Beck, 2009.
22 See Metropole, Provinz und Welt. Raum und Mobilität in der Literatur des
Realismus. Eds. Roland Berbig and Dirk Göttsche. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013
(= Schriften der Theodor Fontane-Gesellschaft, 9).